LAGUNA NIGUEL (CBS13) — A wind-driven coastal fire in Southern California continued to burn out of control Wednesday night after destroying several homes and forcing evacuations.
The so-called Coastal Fire was burning in an upscale neighborhood in Laguna Niguel among multi-million dollar homes.
This all started as a 1-acre fire near a water treatment plant and quickly exploded in size to around 200 acres burned. No one has been injured, in large part, according to firefighters, because they listened to evacuation orders.
Fast-moving flames gutted property after property in the Orange County community. At least two dozen homes were destroyed.
“What we saw today is not something we’re not used to seeing this time of year or even during these types of conditions,” Brian Fennessy with the Orange County Fire Authority told CBS Los Angeles.
See several photos from the scene below.
As planes dropped retardant, relentless winds whipped hot embers up the hillside and forced flames to jump the street, prompting a warning to news crews on the ground.
“Lots of houses on fire, that’s all I can tell you, so be careful of all the ember casts because it’s coming this way,” a firefighter told CBS Los Angeles.
Within minutes that danger intensified. Live ammunition was heard exploding inside homes as flames showed no mercy. With mandatory evacuation orders in place, a panicked, Brianna Kivinski rushed to her home looking for her cat, Nivens, and bird, Abby.
“I guess I’ll wait here because I’m afraid to go further,” she told CBS Los Angeles while outside of her home.
A firefighter who just happened to overhear was able to rescue and reunite her with her frightened pets.
The vegetation in a nearby canyon is bone dry and proof, firefighters say, that it doesn’t take much this fire season to ignite and take off.
“Unfortunately, I believe this is what we’re going to be experiencing over the next several months,” Fennessy said.
California Office of Emergency Service teams are helping crews in Laguna Niguel. Firefighters say the winds are dying down and believe they’ll be able to make some good progress overnight.
What sparked the Coastal Fire is still unclear.